A few months passed, and both sisters grew larger as their foals did within. They had both agreed to keep the fact that they were with foal to themselves and with their mates until they can no longer hide the fact. In fact, they were so determined to hide the secret that they swore the Medicine Mare, Wrenroot, to secrecy, to which she agreed. During these last few months, the mares were practically inseparable, spending time basically only with each other. It was on a hot summer day that Starshine, now about four moons away from having her foal, that she got a visit from someone…unexpected.
Leopardwing, the Mountain Herd Over-Stallion, was not known to take an interest in the pregnant mares of his herd, but, this year, he checked up on each of the ones he knew about. Landing next to her, the Over-Stallion didn’t waste any time with small talk, “I know you’re pregnant.” He muttered quietly.
“Oh?” Starshine asked, her head still lowered to the ground as she grazed, her ear flicking irritably, “Who told you that?” She asked, terror gripping her heart.
“You’d be surprised what a Pegasus will tell you if you apply enough…pressure…” He said coolly, eyeing Starshine with a critical eye.
Starshine lifted her head, trying to block her rising feeling of panic that threatened to overwhelm her. She had to force her feathers to remain flat as she spoke, “Even if I was.” She nickered with a slight tremble in her voice, “Why would you care?” She asked.
“I’m sure you’ve seen the Hundred Year Star in the sky…” He nickered calmly, lifting his eyes skyward as if, even now, in the middle of the day, he could see the legendary star blazing in the sky.
“Yeah, so?” She asked with a shrug, trying not to let her legs tremble.
“I have an invested interest in the…foals…born this year.” He nickered softly, eyeing her side.
Starshine pinned back her ears angrily, “And why?” She asked, knowing that Leopardwing had only invested interest in A foal that was to be born this year, one that she was scared she was carrying at this very moment.
“Let’s just say I…well…I have a plan for the newborns this year.” He nickered.
Starshine sighed, “And why are you telling me this?” She asked, her ears drooping slightly in irritation.
Leopardwing looked at her curiously, “I’m asking the pregnant mares to promise their foals to my service when they are of age…” He said calmly, eyeing her in an obvious attempt to read her thoughts, “And I was wondering if…”
“No.” Starshine said, her voice trembling.
“No?” Replied Leopardwing with a slight irritated ruffle to his feathers.
“No.” Starshine repeated, an added layer of confidence lacing her words. Leopardwing looked at her, a look of a mixture of anger and…was that a bit of regret in his gaze?
“I hope you understand…” He growled, “That I have no other choice…” He nickered, glaring at the mare in front of him as if she were some enemy he had to deal with.
Starshine stepped back, her ears pinned back as she eyed the Over-Stallion, watching his every move as she dropped her wings to protect her belly from an attack.
“You will be placed under guard until the foal is born…” He growled, “Then, I will give you another chance to pledge him, or her, to me.” He hissed, lashing his tail, “If you do not…I will have no choice but to take the foal from you and place him in the care of a more…capable…mare.” He growled.
Starshine’s jaw dropped, her eyes widening, “Y…you’re putting me under guard!?” She nickered, her lip trembling.
The Over-Stallion simply nodded, “I didn’t want to do it, Starshine.” He nickered, a hint of sorrow and regret lacing his voice, “But you gave me no choice.”
“Y…you always have a choice.” She nickered, voice trembling.
Leopardwing eyed her, “Not ALL the time…” He murmured, spreading his wings to take flight, “If you’ll excuse me, I have other mares to visit.” He nickered, kicking off the ground and taking to the sky, slate gray feathers drifting around her from the Over-Stallion’s wings.
Starshine stared at the green grass, her eyes wide and wild, and her nostrils flaring. Her flank shook as her feathers ruffled, “No…” She murmured, “No no no no!” She hissed under her breath, closing her eyes as if all of her problems would disappear.
“Starshine?” Called a familiarly soothing voice, “Starshine!?” Nickered her sister as she galloped up, her eyes wide and worried, “What happened!?” She asked, looking over her sister for any sign of distress, “Are you ok?”
“I got a visit from the Over-Stallion…” Starshine finally managed to gasp out, not taking her eyes off the ground, her legs trembling.
“Isn’t…that a good thing?” Firleaf asked with a tilt of her head, “I mean…if the Over-Stallion visits you…it must mean…”
“He’s interested in the foal…” She murmured, finally tearing her eyes from the grass to look her sister in the eye.
Firleaf’s eyes darkened, “What did he do?” She asked, growling under her breath.
“H…he wanted me to…pledge my foal to his service when…when she…or he…became of age…” She nickered, her voice breaking from her rising terror, "And he put...put me under guard...wh...when I refused.".
Firleaf’s eyes blazed in rage, “That…that SNAKE!” She whinnied in rage, rearing up on her hind legs and pawing the air with her front hooves, “I…I’ll KILL him for that!” She hissed, pawing the ground angrily, her nostrils flaring.
“No, Firleaf…” She murmured, pinning her ears back, “No harm is done, I refused.” She said, trying to keep her discomfort out of her voice.
Firleaf growled, pawing the ground with a hoof with her ears pinned back, “If I were you I’d have smacked his face with my hoof!” She hissed, her eyes narrowed dangerously, as if she planned to find Leopardwing herself and doing just as she threatened.
“I can’t do that to the Over-Stallion!” Whinnied Starshine aghast.
Firleaf snorted, rolling her eyes and swishing her tail in irritation, “Honestly, Leopardwing could USE with a good smack in the face!” She hissed angrily.
“Don’t say that, Firleaf!” Starshine whinnied in shock. Firleaf reared, pawing the air angrily.
“It’s TRUE!” She snapped.
“Still, you shouldn’t say that!”
Firleaf pawed the ground, swishing her tail, her eyes wide and wild, “Fine!” She nickered, “STILL, if Leopardwing brings that up to me, I WILL do as I promised!” She snorted, trotting off with a flick of her tail. Starshine sighed, watching where her sister went.
“What if I DO have the black foal?” She murmured to herself, “How will I be able to protect him or her from Leopardwing with this threat hanging over it’s head?” She whispered, looking at the sky, “Please…if anything…don’t let the black foal be born to Mountain Herd this year…” She murmured, her wings ruffled in agitation.
WOOHOO!! PART 3!! I hope you all like it!! And and I can't WAIT to show you more! This'll be a WILD ride!! As always, constructive criticism, thoughts, and theories are welcome! I also wanted to let you all know I AM still working on The Shattered Herd, I'm just focusing on Legends Arise for a bit to get it rolling! Just thought I'd let you all know!! :) ~ Skysun